It’s no secret that Facebook has been looking to use solar drones to spread internet across the globe. This is obviously quite the challenge, and requires a fair bit of testing to get right. That’s why the Silicon Valley company decided to test their first prototype on June 28th of this year.
After it completed its first functional flight, remaining in the air for 90 minutes above Yuma Arizona, the drone came down to land. Unfortunately, there were some issues with the drone’s structural integrity upon decent, and the crash caused intense damage that left the drone crippled and unusable.
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Facebook has not commented on what went wrong during the landing, but instead praised the flight as a major success, and even said the 90 minute sail was a full 3x longer than it had initially planned for. Still, the crash is a bit concerning, and the US National Transportation Safety Board has decided that they want to look into the incident a little bit deeper.
While it’s likely that there was just a structural flaw in the drone’s design, the board wants to make absolutely sure that this isn’t something that could happen again. During the test flight the drone was sailing above an uninhabited desert area, but the ultimate plan for the drones is to have them sail even closer than satellites to provide internet to everyone on the earth. With giant flying objects larger than Boeing 747’s sailing overhead, it is vitally important that these machines can take off and land safely every single time.
We’re entering a world where internet can be a reality for everyone, but we need to make sure fireballs aren’t raining from the sky to achieve it.
What do you think the authorities will find in the investigation? My guess is that it’s likely a weak wing or something of the like, and Facebook will take extra precautions to make sure it is absolutely safe the next time it decides to test the technology.